Let’s Visit

Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections.
It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War


What are you doing next week? It has always been informative for both of us. This year definitely promises the same.

Educator: Today and Tomorrow
Thursday, October 2 • 3:45pm (one hour) •
Lake Nona, Hilton Orlando

Educator has grown faster, friendlier, and more powerful. You’ve seen a lot this past year. Come see and understand where we are taking Educator in the coming months.


dialogue [dahy-uh-lawg, -log]
1. conversation between two or more persons

We come to listen, to understand, and to share. You have been very vocal here and on our Facebook page. Feel free to do the same live and in person!


WeatherSTEM: What, Why, and Wow!
Friday, October 3 • 9:00am (90 minutes) •
Lake Mizell A&B, Hilton Orlando

Have you ever asked about the weather? Do you garden? Do you ever look up at the sky and wonder? WeatherSTEM brings live data about our world into the school curriculum. It’s the most connected weather system on the planet!


adventure [ad-ven-cher]
1. an exciting or very unusual experience
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises

This is something new and different. This is WeatherSTEM. We are bringing the world around us into classrooms and homes. Come learn about what we are doing outside and what you can discover inside. You can pick the next award winner! It’s probably happening in your backyard, or it will be there soon.

We look forward to crossing paths with you at one time or the other. It’s always been a learning experience for us, and we hope it’s the same for you. Who knows what magic awaits?


One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.
~ Henry Ford

Reach Out

Reach out and touch
Somebody’s hand.
Make this world a better place
If you can.
~ Diana Ross, debut solo single for Motown, 1970

Someone took the time to reach out to us:

Any way that you guys could make it to where the gradebook or the assessments tab in students view could have a teacher editable area – so for example right now I put the plans for success in the students profile for me to see – but it would be super awesome if the kids would see that too :)

You know those times. There are times when you want to slap a reminder right where a student is guaranteed to see it. It might be for any reason. It could be to complete a DBA, or maybe it’s to read an email. It might be to contact you, or it could even be congratulations for some job well done. It makes no difference; it’s just another way to personalize your students’ experience. As long as you’re leaving notes around, why not add a splash of color?


How would you like to leave notes for your students? Individual, personalized notes from you can appear on any student’s gradereport and workload pages. Imagine leaving a note that defies the excuse, “I didn’t see it.” Interested? For that extra touch you can even select your splash of color:


Ready to give it a whirl? This is where you will create and/or edit any personal notes for students …


The title will always appear in BOLD type. (PLEASE NOTE: Adding a title is optional.) Whatever you put in the REMINDER TEXT box will appear directly under the Title. You have 4 color choices in the dropdown menu. To make anything stick, of course there is the SAVE button. There you go! The DELETE checkbox does exactly what you might think; it deletes the reminder. Now that you have the big picture, how do you get it on the right lunch bag or backpack?

Go to your STUDENTS list. Slowly float your pointer down the list of students in your class. As you hover, you will notice a small blue icon with a plus sign. (See Bart below.) A callout will read ADD A REMINDER FOR THIS STUDENT.


When a reminder is already set for a student, a constant blue icon with exclamation point will be your signal. (See Lisa above.) Hovering over this icon will reveal the title and text of your reminder. Just glancing at the roster will indicate who has a reminder. The hover will show the reminder. Clicking the icon will bring you to that EDIT STUDENT REMINDER window (way up above here) where you can use that DELETE checkbox, if you like.

You will also see the reminder on the student’s gradereport. It will appear to you exactly as the student will see it. This way you can readily know what the reminder says to your student. Clicking the “X” button will close the reminder for that page view. Refreshing or returning to the page will show it again. Leave some notes, and let us know what you think.

We have one more comment to share:

I’m not sure if this has been suggested before, but frequently when a student sends me an email inside the system, I need to look at their gradebook to answer the question. Clicking on their name takes me to the student mail profile. It would pretty cool if that click, or a different link, took me directly to their gradebook view.

This sounded like a great idea to us! You will now notice a small icon next to the student’s name on an e-mail. Click that icon, and you will be taken directly to that student’s grade report in a new window.


Thanks for visiting. We hope to see you in just two weeks.

Reach out and touch someone.
~ Tony Galli and Stanley Lomas for N.W. Ayer & Son (AT&T advertising, 1979)

A Look Back

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~ Walt Disney

We love moving forward. Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone?
There is definitely a unique joy to be found traveling new paths and exploring new territory. The Ucompass developers feel the same. It genuinely pleases them to build these new features and better enhance your Educator world.
As we march toward a more personalized and prescriptive student experience, we are often finding buried treasures in our “old” Educator. Two recent comments brought this to mind after releasing the forcing feature in assignments …

I love the new forcing for the Assessments! Is there a way to add that to the exams as well? Most of our assignments are exams and we would like to put some on those as well.

And again …

I noticed I cannot force after an exam. Something that can be added?

A quick poll of other teachers illuminated these comments. Folks heartily agreed that adding forced outcomes to exams would be a great idea. We heard the call to action, and guess what? Educator exams already have this feature! First, we have a thought from an old friend here …

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
~ Albert Einstein

Here we go!

Pick an exam. Select MODIFY on the ACTIONS dropdown.


In the menu at the top click the link SET OUTCOMES.


The next step is to note how many outcomes you wish to have.


Assignments default to the same forcing slide regardless of outcome/grade.

Exams can be even more personalized. All students can be sent to the same Object ID regardless of the achieved grade:


Or students can be sent to different objects BASED ON THEIR GRADE:


It’s up to you! Once again you can better personalize your students’ experience.

See that? There are quite a few places where Educator already takes steps to address the personalized and prescriptive focus we have today. Together we will uncover what gems and answers might already be there and determine the best way to reach our common goal.


Thursday, October 2nd at 3:45PM

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
~ Henry Ford

Writing for A Change

The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.
~ Lee Iacocca

What good does it do you and your fellow teachers to make comments here, or on Facebook, or our website, or via email? That’s a fair question for those of you who are new to these pages. It’s said well in the quote above … your writing is the first step toward making changes for the better. Do you notice how together we have improved the efficiency of the Educator system? Our listening would be useless without your speaking, your comments and ideas, your writing. You are the first step! For example, give a listen here …

The one thing that is very frustrating is having he student grade level column in the grading folder. We do not need to know what grade level they are for grading work. It interferes with looking to see if it is a resubmitted assignment or new assignment. (Most teachers put a zero or a 1 into the grade to have the child resubmit.)

Hide and Seek


That particular comment started this ball rolling. We have added column fields along the way for groups of teachers who had made requests on this page. Not everyone wanted everything that was added by the development team. What now? One afternoon a developer scratched his head and said, “Why not give the teachers a choice? Let them pick what they want to see!”

Take a look at your workload (click ASSESSMENTS). The GRADING WORKFLOW is still there. All your FILTERS are there as well. There is that new button highlighted above labeled SHOW/HIDE COLUMNS.


When you click that button, you will see the list captured in the screenshot here. The eight column headings are listed, and these correspond to the headings listed below. Which columns do you want to see on your workload page? Place checkmarks in the boxes you want to be visible, and that is how Educator will present your workload. All sort capabilities will remain available.


PLEASE NOTE: The FILTERS will still apply to ALL workload entries. Filters will still function regardless of any columns hidden. The SHOW/HIDE feature ONLY applies to what you see on the screen.

We stumbled over some more written thoughts …

Curiosity – can we do outcomes for assignments, not just exams – say if a kid submits his 1.07 assignment it forces to an html to schedule a DBA? I do this for exams, but can’t seem to see it in a specific assignment.

Greater Force

This use case has been presented more than once. Students get through an assignment and really should move on to their DBA or some other particular place. You would like to reach through the network and flash a reminder at that exact moment. Now you can do this after assignments! Go to your ASSIGNMENTS listing and select MODIFY as an action for the assignment after which you want to trigger something.


Scroll down through the assignment, and you will find the text box labeled FORCE STUDENT TO OBJECT. Just enter the Object ID to which you want to force every student upon submission, and they will be brought there as soon as the submission is made.


Where can you find any objects that might interest you? As a reminder … the most likely place to find the item you want and its Object ID will be in MY FOLDERS.


We have some long-term plans that are coming together. The Ucompass developers are working to make Educator a more prescriptive and personalized experience for your students and you. Keep sharing your ideas with us. Once they are written, they always get discussed … and often they get done!


So let it be written; so let it be done.
~ Rameses II, The Ten Commandments, 1956

Bountiful Buffet

buffet Shop often, shop hard, and spend for the best stuff available.
Logic dictates that you can make delicious food only with delicious ingredients.
~ Mario Batali

Forcing Sorts

We went through the pantry of your suggestions and managed to put a little something for everyone on the table this week. It started with this item from the developers’ thinking table:

Hi, any chance that you can make the forcing slide column sortable, so that I can have them in order and easily go through them each week to “add 1″ in order to force that student to the next slide?

Here we go … 2_forcing The table can now be sorted on this FORCING column. If you have named your forcing slides with numbered prefixes, this comes in very handy. If not, you probably don’t care right now, but you probably will someday.

TA (Teaching Assistant) Time

We all know that the students are the most important figures in the education landscape. When it comes to getting the job done, however, the role of teaching assistant (TA) plays a critical role. Someone wrote:

I was wondering if it would be possible to see the THINGS TO GRADE box on the main page of Educator when we login as a TA. It would save many of us some needless clicks if it were on that page like it is on our own course page. We probably don’t need the CURRENT GRADE on our page; I would rather the THINGS TO GRADE instead. Thanks for thinking about it :)

It became time to update their TA dashboard to better reflect the role of teacher: 3_TAdash Some old panels were removed and new ones added. Additions include THINGS TO GRADE and WHO’S BEEN DOING WHAT. The first is a shortcut to your workload. The latter will list most recent class submissions. Think of this as a new set of wheels for the TA. You no longer have to ride around in the student driver car.

Super Supervisors

Someone was kind enough to make us aware on Facebook:

Hi, I was wondering if it is possible to make it the default when I send emails and reply to student emails to have it “Send to Supervisor Email” instead of my checking that option. About 90% of the time, I would like parents to have a copy of the email. For the 10% that it does not apply, I could uncheck it. Thank you for your support!

4parent350Super idea!
Just below your signature will be the checkbox to send to supervisor email by default.
Reminder: the supervisor email must exist in VSA. If the email is not there or if it is incorrect, the same will hold true here.
The choice is yours to use this or not.

New for Content Developers

This one is NOT for the teachers. It’s for the hard-working content developers out there. One of them actually wrote …

The way assessments are re-ordered now is awful. Instead of manually setting all of the assessments, give us the ability to drag and drop to reorder them. (Similar to arranging our course lists.)

Course developers, do you remember this? 1GBold Remember how many numbers needed to be changed when one was changed? Now take a look at this: 1GBnew Guess what? It’s now drag and drop! From now on … there is no need to use those numbers to change the Gradebuilder order. No longer are assessments grouped by TYPE. The modernized interface is strictly drag and drop. Are there any curriculum comments out there?

It’s important for me who is at the table with me; the moment when everyone speaks to each other and everyone listens.
If there’s good food, it’s much better.

~ Andrea Bocelli

Update Central: Reason for Exemption


Do you remember when we introduced the addition of the REASON FOR EXEMPTION in assignments? That same comment box now appears for quizzes/exams that can be made exempt for students. NOTE: The does not add the ability to exempt anything new. It simply creates a space that was needed for the prescriptive direction that Educator is heading.


If you manually exempt an exam/quiz, you will get the REASON FOR EXEMPTION field as shown. You will first have to set the manual score as ‘Ex’ (or ‘EX’, ‘ex’, ‘eX’), and then click outside of the “Manual Score” field in order for the REASON FOR EXEMPTION field to appear.

Update Central: Notifications

The engines that ran your notification system had gone down for a while. Now they are back and tuned better than ever!


Go to ANNOUNCEMENTS > NOTIFICATION CENTER. Experiment with whatever you like from this list. It might prove very helpful on days when your time is budgeted more than usual.

If you choose to try the ADVANCED NOTIFICATION SETTINGS, you must continue to remember:

  • specify an email address
  • set the email notifications function to ON
  • set both days and times to receive notifications
  • specify the courses to monitor

NOTE: At this time … paging should be ignored, as it duplicates the email feature.

 Helpful Reminder

We received this request:

I’m not sure if this has been suggested before, but frequently when a student sends me an email inside the system, I need to look at their gradebook to answer the question. Clicking on their name takes me to the student mail profile. It would pretty cool if that click, or a different link, took me directly to their gradebook view.

Others certainly agreed. It makes such great sense, doesn’t it? Where does clicking on a student name in your email actually bring you? Have you tried it?  Look!


The link is already there! Give it a try.
PLEASE NOTE: This only shares the links to grade reports in classes for which you are the teacher, and the student is currently active. It’s amazing how we sometimes forget what’s right in front of us every day.

Time to get back into the kitchen here. Let us know what you think.

A lot of restaurants serve good food, but they don’t have very good service.
~ Wolfgang Puck

Making A Mistake

My mother never gave up on me.
I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back.

~ Denzel Washington

doh“We all make mistakes.”
You’ve heard that before.
We’ve all been allegedly comforted with those words, haven’t we?
No matter how sincere the speaker and no matter how small our mistake …
that slip manages to steal the wind from our sails, the roll in our wheels, and the life from our smile.

We made a mistake this week, and we’re here to acknowledge the error of our ways.

This page has always been about sharing.
You share your ideas.
We share the development work done to move forward the Ucompass vision and get your feedback.
There is something you don’t know about this process that contributed to our mistake of the week.


Before we release enhancements to the live Educator system, there is a testing week that takes place with a small group of FLVS managers across all departments. This extends our testing group and allows others to make suggestions or share concerns BEFORE releasing to the platform used by FLVS and its franchises.
Simply put … we neglected to run our sharing and testing last week. So this week becomes next week. Get it?

We apologize, and we move on.
So we browsed around online and found some things worth sharing. We think of them as possible little treasures that you might enjoy.


Quick visit list:

6 Tools for Teachers by Bill Gates

Pinnacle Education: 3 Must-Read Books

Difference Between – Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Rapid E-Learning Blog: Games About Fonts

Lumosity – challenge your brain

There is bound to be something there that you will surely enjoy. Make no mistake … we will be back next week! Thank you.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
~ George Bernard Shaw

People Get Ready

I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for your self.
~ Robin Williams, as John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989)

Thinking for your self? Along with the noble idea of education there’s the daily business of education. You are in that business, and it really amounts to thinking (at least some of the time) for others, doesn’t it? We have spent the better part of this past week visiting schools and facilities from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale. It has been a road show with several stops along the way. This journey was all part of our exciting WeatherSTEM project.  What did we find?

We were met face-to-face with the energy of getting ready for the new school year in schools and facilities across Florida. The signs are rampant. We have all seen it. The thrill of getting ready for a fresh start seems to be leaking into the tired buildings:


“How was your summer?” The conversations and smiles seem to be wearing all the colors and cleanliness of new beginnings. Waves of new life roll through shiny hallways and welcoming doors. It’s that moment laid out as an opportunity for a better ending. It’s that smell of a clean slate, a tabula rasa:


There’s a train coming

There is the overriding hope that this year will be a bit different; it will be a little better. New seeds make for new plants make for new fruit. There will be new discoveries, new adventures, and new rewards. All the newness makes everything look a shade better. Everyone began years ago the same way the newest members of your profession, the first-year teachers, will begin this year. Look in their eyes beyond the nervous fear. Focus on the hope; focus on the possibility for realizing the spectacular. The air has been full of diamonds this past week. Sadly, the dimming will likely begin in another week without your help. Those sparks do indeed fly off your efforts and light the sky when you reach for the spectacular. You can do it! Now what?


Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish, and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.
~ Robin Williams, as Jack Powell in Jack (1996)

Driving Along

The middle of the road is where the white line is – and that’s the worst place to drive.
~ Robert Frost


This week is all about driving with purpose, with a sense of commitment. It’s a lot harder to drive on one side of the road or the other than it is to ride the white line with all that room on both sides. You’ve done it before … late at night with eyes closing and a radio that just doesn’t keep you awake. It’s really not safe, but it sure feels that way. Room for error is the goal. Riding the white line does not make you a better driver; it just makes you lucky, if no one else is around. Real driving is about committing to a lane and hanging in there. What does this have to do with Educator?

About six months ago the developers introduced the concept of snippets. A search on this blog site for snippets will display how often they are mentioned. As much as you have enjoyed them, something was always wrong. As the developers have explained, it is just not operationally feasible to create a series of snippet folders at this time. We have talked with teachers who have created more than 500 snippets for their personal use! We had no answers, but you kept writing …

Hi there! I use my Snippets A LOT but am finding with a 2-segment course there are a lot to scroll through to find the one I want. In a dream world would it be possible for us to make folders inside our Snippet menu?

So as I’m adding snippets, what I think would help me a lot is if snippets could be maybe be assigned to a specific module… or for me even to a specific lesson. Right now they can be assigned just to a specific course… but even more specificity here would make this really jump leaps and bounds in usefulness… at least for me...

There have been other requests just like those above. Over the past few weeks the development team has been wrestling with this issue. It was too easy to stay in the middle of the road, to ride the “not now” rationale! They wanted to commit to getting something done. And they did!

Snippet Tagging

1manage225When you are looking at your workload (ASSESSMENTS), you will notice a button in the bottom left just above the Educator shortcut buttons. Click MANAGE FEEDBACK SNIPPETS to enter into your snippet organization zone.
(Yes! You have your very own organization zone to use as you choose.)

This will bring you to the screen for managing your snippets:


From here you can add, edit, or delete any snippet you like. Be patient please. This might be a bit complicated, but once you get it, you will really appreciate it.
Here are some key highlights to this page:

  • The green boxes in this edited screenshot highlight the NAMES of the snippets.
  • After the word TAGS … whatever tag you created is written.
  • You can EDIT or DELETE any snippet.

Look at the first snippet above:

  • Name = 3912_Test 1 (3912)
  • Tag = Module 1

These naming conventions were just invented by the author. The logic here was this particular snippet is for Course ID 3912, specifically Test #1, and it has been tagged with Module 1.  It could just as easily been named Snippet 17 and tagged 3912. It makes no difference how it is named or tagged AS LONG AS IT WORKS for you! Get it?

In case you might have forgotten the variables that could be used with your snippets, a link to them is provided on this page as well.


Whenever you CREATE or EDIT a snippet, you will be using the ADD FEEDBACK SNIPPET box. Here we go!


The entries are self-explanatory, but some suggestions might prove helpful. Think about how you think. If you are working tightly with a team, this might be a group effort. The point is to develop a pattern that works for you (singular) and you (plural).  Some highlights that might prove useful to you:

  • The AVAILABLE TAGS are just a list of tags you have already used/created.
  • Snippets can have more than one tag.
  • All snippets will show up in all of your course shells UNLESS you use the checkboxes.
  • Do limit snippets that only apply to certain courses with the appropriate checkbox.
  • Remember to click SAVE, or you won’t.

This was only one way to add a snippet to your collection! You can also add one “on the fly,” or while you are inside a comment box on an assignment. Here we go again!


You’ve written comments to a student, and you decide to keep those comments as a snippet. Just highlight what you have written and click that plus (+) sign after the snippet selectors. The ADD FEEDBACK SNIPPET will open for your entries and save. Snippet selectors? What are they?

Now that you have your catalog of snippets named and tagged, what’s next? Whenever a snippet might be appropriate (text/feedback boxes or email), the SNIPPET SELECTOR window will come floating along.


Just follow the order from top to bottom, and you’ll catch on in no time.  This is our first step into snippet organization. You’ll catch on to how it works, so give it a try. After you’ve used it enough, we know you’ll make suggestions to make it even better. We’re counting on that, so let us know.

New Icon

Visit any student grade report, and you will notice a new icon.


The icon just represents an exam/quiz that the student could RESET independently. It does NOT mean that the exam was reset; it just means it COULD be. That’s all it means, and it is there primarily for help desk and support groups. At some point it seems that the number of resets and rollbacks and “shopping” for grades will come under tighter control. This icon represents a first step in that direction.

EX-ing Away?

We have a new support headache, and you can help. The “EX” feature in the gradebook was never meant to steer students through a course. In fact, the “EX” was created primarily to permanently EXCUSE non-honors students from honors assignments (or vice versa). Using it to create student paths has been causing problems for both the students and their parents. Temporarily hiding content/assignments via the “EX” tool really needs to stop. There must be a better solution. Tell us what you think, and let’s get a dialogue rolling.

The middle of the road is for yellow lines and dead armadillos.
~ Jim Hightower

Another Roadside Attraction

It is better to learn late than never.
~ Publilius Syrus

publilius-syrusA truth from years ago still remains true centuries later. It’s always a good time to learn. There have been many changes in Educator over the past two years. Those of you who have been around that long know what we mean. Those of you who are new to this community will just have to trust the rest of us. Yes, there are even more changes and enhancements in the pipeline, more on the way to and for you and your students. There are big ones and little ones coming together to make a difference. Your reactions to our team’s efforts have been shared with us here, via email, on our Facebook page, and over the phone. Your comments have truly been an inspiration to the Educator team. You keep us learning! How’s that? Back to ancient wisdom …

Where there is unity there is always victory.
~ Publilius Syrus

Every so often it is a good thing to pause and look back. It’s like sitting down at a roadside diner during a long cross-country trip. It can be fun to look over the magic marker line of the roads already traveled. It just brings a smile to know how far you’ve come, renew the vision of where you’re going, and getting that burst of energy from a timely stop at a roadside attraction.  This is one such stop.


Working remotely on our islands, we sometimes forget the pleasure we bring others. There are few smiling faces to see every day. What we really have are words. Looking over very recent communications yielded some “recorded” words that warrant sharing with our team and with you. Some copy/paste magic brings them to this page. There are no fakes; there are no additions; these are only people talking to people. These brought a renewed smile and another jump-start to our engines. They might break a new dawn of ideas or suggestions on your horizon as well. Keep sharing!

I know I appreciate all of the improvements you guys are making.  I emailed my co-Lead this morning to brag on the email changes.

Don’t get me started on the forcing slide changes!  I about did a cartwheel for those!!!

You guys are some of the most available/responsive developers I have ever encountered.

Our whole team is super excited.. !!! BRAVO! There is no other word that is EXCELLENT!! You guys are fantastic!! THANK YOU,THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Thank you! Love all the new changes- you guys rock!

LOVE the blog! LOVE the changes!

Love you guys.

I cannot express how excited I am about the unlock submission. I felt so bad for the kids as a teacher. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU….You guys are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I can’t tell you how much easier or rather less complicated my Educator ‘life’ has been since all these changes have come about. KUDOS to the entire team.

Three-minute response time on a Sunday…IMPRESSIVE!

Amazing job with the upgrade…I am loving the new Fast Feedback feature that magically appeared in my course tonight.

Many thanks to you and your amazing crew!

All I can say…. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!

Loving the updates. It’s like Educator is a playground now. Lots to explore and discover.

Thanks so much for the response and to even entertain our suggestions. I’m looking forward to the evolution!

I saw it tonight while grading and flipped! Yes!!!! I love it! Thank you!

MAGIC!!! That’s perfect, Ucompass geniuses!

That list above just scratches the surface. Do us a favor? Keep visiting our Facebook page when a brilliant idea rises on your horizon. We know what to do with them.

The person who receives the most favors is the one who knows how to return them.
~ Publilius Syrus


Find A Kid!

Editorial note: It’s good to hear more than one voice. I’ve been thinking about opening this door to others to write something of significance to share in this community. I shared this idea with someone you probably know. She presented me this morning with what follows. It reminded me of you, of your passion, and our shared mission.
~ Peter

This is the blog Peter won’t write.

If you follow him, it is the one post you should read this month. If you read here faithfully, I imagine you know Peter as the voice behind the Ucompass blog, the voice that speaks for the customer, and the voice that represents the teacher. You likely picture him sitting or standing behind a monitor typing away, often introducing a new function in Educator. Since January, 2013, every Thursday like clockwork, he talks to you from this site and teaches you the secrets of Educator that continue to evolve in order to make your jobs technologically simpler, more efficient and more engaging. He also shows you how Educator plays a role in student success. You probably think of him as the voice of your LMS.

Like all of us, however, Peter is not just one-dimensional, and once again, this past weekend I was reminded of who he really is and what he really does and why he does it …

We had agreed, after talking about it for over a year, to really, really, really clean out our garage that had become a home for wayward spiders and a timeshare destination for wasps and junk that no one could quite throw away. The mess had grown over the years and one corner of the garage had been designated as Peter’s dream corner.

Flagler Rams flying field

Flagler Rams flying field

Eight years ago, when we moved into this house, he had lovingly set up that corner with his remote control model planes and all the accouterment to design, build and fly those models.

For eight years, he had held onto the dream, while the dream collected dust in his little corner of the garage.

Twice in all those years, he visited the airfield, but he just never quite had the time to get back into his hobby.

Fast forward to a few days ago. Finally, he was ready to admit that the dream hobby was from days gone by, and he just would not be rebuilding that corner of his life. He packed the trunk to overflowing, loaded the back seat, stacking planes and parts and tools to the car’s ceiling and shoved the overflow into the passenger seat.

A tiny fraction of the dusty dream.

A tiny fraction of the dusty dream.

“I’m heading to the airfield,” he announced.

“Wow,” I said. ‘That’s lots of money there. How much do you think you’ll make?” I asked, as I knew the guys in the RC club always swapped, bartered and bought supplies when they were flying planes.

“None. Not going to sell this stuff.”

Suddenly, I had visions of him unloading the car and putting everything back in the garage. We were never going to get it cleaned out.

“Ugh! Aargh!” Hoarding was the word that was coming to my mind.

Then, he said, “I’m going to find a kid.” And he got in the car and left … just like that.

When he got to the field, he spotted a young teenager, standing and watching. The kid was watching with that look shy kids have when they want to learn, want to do, want to blend in and just don’t quite know where to begin.

He just wanted to learn, to do, and to blend in.

He just wanted to learn, to do, and to blend in.

Peter introduced himself and soon learned the kid’s name was O’Ryan, and he was with his grandfather with whom he was visiting for the summer. He had always wanted to learn to fly, but the planes, and the parts, and the crates full of tools … all of it was just an unaffordable dream for him and his grandfather.

Peter began to unload the car as he continued talking to the kid. The flyers began circling around. They were offering to buy this or that. One by one, Peter said, “No.”

Finally, he asked O’Ryan if he would take care of the piles of remote-control fun. O’Ryan’s eyes got wide, as he assured Peter he would, but then, disappointment seeped in. “We can’t afford this,” his grandfather said.

“Well, it’s my gift to you both. I sure hope you two have fun together.” With that, Peter got into the car. He had found his kid. Peter turned to the grandfather and said, “Help O’Ryan. Make him read the books, and help him.”

And they would find each other.

And they would find each other.

And that’s what jazzes Peter. That’s what excites him about you. It’s what he likes about Ucompass and why he works this blog space. Through the work you do, through the new developments in Educator both large and small, and through his belief in the work of the FLVS/Educator partnership … every day, in some way, he gets to “find a kid.”

~ Pam Birtolo